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24 Oct 2017
Dundee Stronger Together

Do It Yourself Workshop on the Independence Referendum

 Scotland is facing a big decision in the near future.  In September there will be a chance to vote on whether should or should not be an Independent country.  

 Everybody should have a chance to play a part in this.  And we have been going around the country running workshops that people with learning disabilities can explore the different ways that they can come to a decision on the future of Scotland. 

We have run 25 workshops from Aberdeen to Duns and from Lochmaben to Cupar, covering much of the country and have spoken to over 350 people with learning disabilities.  We will be carrying out more over the next few months and if you are in one of our member organisations who has not yet had one please get in touch.  But otherwise we simply cannot keep up with the demand. 

So we are making materials available so that people can run their own workshop over the next few months so that lots more people can look at this issue.  This is a balanced exercise that does not favour either side and we would ask that anyone using this material respects this. 

 Even if you don't run a workshop you can use the information below to find out more.

Below you can download lots of help material that you can print off and use.  You can use each of them as part of the workshop or just use single pieces on their own.


Instructions for carrying out a workshop

Powerpoint presentation on voting in the referendum – This is a set of slides that you can use to structure your workshop.  You do not need to use every slide. 

Video One – Big Eck needs your help song – This is a fun video about the referendum that usually gets a laugh and sets everybody up for a good discussion. 

Video Two – Question Time at the Scottish Parliament – This is a video interview between two leading politicians Jackie Baillie and Joan MacAlpine about what difference the referendum will make for people with learning disabilities. 

Video Three – Our Voices – This is a video of what people with learning disabilities from around Scotland think about the referendum. 

Pamphlet One – Question Time on Independence – This is a cartoon style pamphlet that has essential information about the referendum as well as the leading arguments from both sides about independence.

Pamphlet Two – More Information on the issues people care about.  This is an Easy Read pamphlet that has the answers to the ten most popular questions asked by people with learning disabilities at the end of each of our workshops. 

Ballot Form – This is a sample of the ballot form that will be used on September 18th

Voting Cards – We recommend that you print three coloured cards to each participant in the workshop and ask them to use them to vote on the different questions.  If you are printing the cards, print numbers on each so that they are easy to link to answers.  If card is being cut, then write the numbers on each.  The cards will be easier to use if they are joined at one corner by string or something similar. 


This workshop works best for groups between 10 and 12 people but can be used for groups between 4 & 100.  Presenters need to keep their own views on the outcome of the referendum to themselves before and during the presentation. 

Equipment needed

·         Projector or Television wired for sound

·         Voting cards for each person

·         Copies of the pamphlets for each person

·         Access to the internet or downloaded copies of the videos

Workshop Aim

To help people with learning disabilities to explore the issues around independence and Scottish identity.

To give people practice in making decisions over issues involved in the debate about independence. 

Background material is contained in the notes on each slide

Presenters should have read the pamphlets and watched the videos in advance along with the background material prior to the workshop.  The presenter does not have to be an expert on all the issues in the presentation but confident enough in presenting an outline of the issues. 

The workshop should last about an hour to an hour and a half.    If the workshop is going on, then the presenter should miss out some of the questions in the middle.  The aim is to explore the issue, not to bore or tire people in submission.  It is important that every group gets to the concluding question on what they think about independence. 

Where a slide requires people to vote, call for people to show the same colour of card that reflects that answer.   The presenter should count or make a judgement about which answer is most popular each time.   It is important that people realise that voting leads to one answer, one side, one person being chosen.  

Presenters should keep an accurate count of responses to the final question and email us  with the results. 

For those that need hard copies of any of the materials, they should get in touch with the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland and we will provide copies for as long as supplies last. 





The Legal Services Agency is organising a full day conference on Deprivation of Liberty on 19th May this year.

This is to coincide with the Cheshire West judgement which has a number of implications for Scotland in particular with regard to the care and treatment of adults and children with incapacity.

LSA also have a Deprivation of Liberty test case on going in the Court of Session which is considering whether an individual can be deprived of their liberty by virtue of a Continuing and Welfare Power of Attorney.

These topics will likely be of interest to members of LDAS given our recent concerns on the use of Section 13za of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968.

While the conference is a bit pricey and aimed at legal education, some might find it interesting. Follow this link for more information. 

In our last newsletter, we highlighted the use of Section 13ZA, part of the Social Work Scotland Act which was designed to allow councils to help people without capacity to leave hospital and settle in new homes in the community.  We were worried about the use of this legislation to unfairly move people with learning  disabilities from their own home in the community into residential care (see box).  And read our original report by clicking here

We asked councils across Scotland how often they used Section 13ZA to move people. 

Only 3 of the smallest councils in Scotland and 2 medium sized ones (South Ayrshire and Argyll & Bute) were able to give us some figures.  Argyll & Bute  and Clacks both said they had used the rule to move people with learning disabilities from their own homes.  The other councils didn’t keep information which showed the client group of people affected. 

The other councils said that they wouldn’t tell us because they didn’t keep the information in an easily accessible way.  Most said it was recorded on paper files only and it would take too much time to get to it.  A few didn’t record the use of 13ZA at all!

This surprised us because we have found 2007 guidance from the Scottish Government which says that local authorities have to keep records on the use of Section 13za in an easily accessible data storage system linked to their other computerised data so that the Social Work Inspection Agency (now the Care Inspectorate) could check what was happening. 

“Local authorities may want to review their local protocols and, in addition, may need to adapt their case record data collection programmes in order to account for cases where the local authority has used its power under section 13ZA of the 1968 Act to provide services”. 

Possibly local councils haven’t read this guidance.  Or possibly don’t realise the importance of making sure that people who are moved without their consent need full and proper protection. 



A PATIENT who died days after he was denied hospital care because he had a learning disability has sparked a major review of NHS services in Lothian.



The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland said the man was the victim of discrimination after a Royal Infirmary consultant declined to carry out an in-depth medical investigation because he assumed it would have caused the patient distress or led to a “deterioration of his behaviour”.

The investigation, the results of which have been sent to NHS boards across Scotland and are being examined by the Scottish Government, also found that poor communication between health professionals had meant vital warning signs that could have pointed doctors to diagnose the fatal condition were missed.

Dr Donald Lyons, chief executive of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, said the conduct of the consultant who sent the patient home from hospital had struck a nerve with him personally.

The Scottish Government has just announced plans to exempt all care and support arrangements from the requirement to advertise and competition.  This will come in an amendment to a new bill and will not be law for some time yet, probably later in 2014 but public authorities should see this proposal as the direction of travel and abandon plans to tender care services that that they are currently considering.

Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement to the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee of the Scottish Parliament as part of its scrutiny of the Procurement Reform Bill at Stage 1 on the 11th of December:

“Having listened to the evidence, it is our intention to bring forward an amendment to the Bill at Stage 2 which will exempt health and social care contracts from the provisions in the Bill which relate to advertising and competition, and I hope that will go some way to addressing the concerns that have been raised…where an authority does choose to hold a competition for these kinds of services, it is important that some provisions in the Bill will still apply.”   This will particularly exempt health and social care from the “mandating of that competition”

In the committee MSPs spoke about the “merry-go-round” of care services that puts a lot of pressure on the third sector.  They were worried that “ tendering for  care services was being  driven by cost rather than quality, which is driving  down pay and conditions for workers and causing a high staff turnover rate” 

Many of us share these worries and there has been much campaigning and lobbying over the last 5 years by Learning Disability Alliance Scotland,  our friends at CCPS and others.   We fought a big campaign against tendering in Edinburgh and supported challenges to care tendering in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire.   It’s really good news that in the future that authorities will have more discretion as to whether or not they put contracts out to tender (or, more likely, re-tender); and less discretion about how they conduct tenders, should they choose to use competition.

Now no one really needs to have to worry about their services being tendered out from under them. All local councillors need to know this and this will be especially so for those councillors in Edinburgh who are thinking about plans to tender supported employment services in 2014.  Time to think again!